Something which has been playing on my mind lately has been my increased awareness of how dependant on technology younger generations are. I’ve noticed far more over the last few years that more and more marketing is aimed at keeping kids occupied using mobile phones (iPhone apps in particular), video games and handheld consoles. Now not wishing to sound too hypocritical, after all I am a frequent consumer of these products myself, but I can’t help wondering whether the new generation of children coming through into society will be missing many of the fond memories and social skills that come from interacting with peers over physical games.
When I was growing up my siblings and I would often spend rainy weekends playing games of guess who, connect four and downfall and I often played What’s The Time Mr Wolf, Tag and other traditional group games in the school playground at lunchtime with my friends. Just recently I saw a child of no more than about 3 years old demanding his mother’s iPhone and knew just how to find his apps before becoming completely absorbed in the bright coloured motion taking place on-screen. This just bothered me. I didn’t have a games console growing up and was only allowed to play at friends’ houses, my first mobile was when I was 16 (and was a giant brick of a phone) and social networking and the internet didn’t really take off until I was at University. I understand that it is impossible to expect the same of children these days, after all technology now plays a valuable role in education, but surely there has to be some balance?
Just lately I have rediscovered the pleasure that comes from sitting down and playing a game of cards (practising my shuffling in the process), and have had cravings for old-fashioned games like chess and dominos. Whilst these games are readily available on any smart phone these days I was surprised at just how enjoyable it was the play “in real life”…it really was a revelation.
I think the internet and technology plays a crucial and fantastic part of society, games are fun, phones are useful and social networking are valuable ways of keeping in contact with those not in our immediate day to day life. Surely however as responsible adults it is our job to teach children how to moderate their usage of these tools and to ensure that this is not at the expense of valuable social skills and interaction with the wider world? Having recently reconsidered the amount of time I spend online, having realised that it was interfering with how I viewed the world and people around me, I just hope that this is lesson which others do not have to wait 30 years to learn for themselves.